BATTLING ON TWO FRONTS
In Salford the battle against mental health cuts has opened up a new front – in addition to fighting the council we are now fighting NHS cuts too.
Among the 300 staff that Salford Council want to sack are the community care workers who help people to stay out of hospital. Last year Salford UNISON successfully fought off plans to privatise the service and are moving rapidly to a ballot for industrial action. At the same time Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust are ‘consulting’ over proposals to close several mental health wards, shunt all elderly / dementia patients to one location, and introduce ‘community care’ with a maximum of three visits a day. If all these cuts went through there’d be no-one to keep you out of hospital and no hospital beds if you needed one.
The initial meeting of Save Mental Health Services in Salford, which drew an attendance of over 40 service users, carers and staff, heard Diane Cawood, UNISON steward on one of the threatened wards and SP member, explain why we need to fight the cuts. Steve Cullen from the service users campaign USUC denounced GMW’s manipulation of bed occupancy rates, as they only count patients who are ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act. Hugh Caffrey brought greetings from Keep Our NHS Public and expressed confidence that the campaign could win. Already three campaigners have debated with GMW at a Salford Council committee and challenged the council to ‘call in’ the proposals. We are pleased to have won the support of Beverley Callard, the actor who plays Liz McDonald in Coronation Street, who has been open about her own battle against mental illness. Liz has already appeared on ITV’s ‘Daybreak’ to criticise the cuts and has promised to join us on the march against cuts in Eccles on 29th March.
These cuts are getting a rough ride across the Trust, which covers Bolton. Salford and Trafford. Already the clinical commissioning group in Trafford has withdrawn its support and confidence is growing that we can halt these cuts. We look forward to a lively lobby of the Trust itself on 24th February and a great demo on 29th March!
SAVE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN SALFORD
Lobby GMW Trust, Monday 24th February, from 9.00 am
Trust HQ, Prestwich Hospital, Bury New Road, Prestwich M25 3BL
Demonstration in Eccles
Saturday 29th March, assemble 12.30
Eccles Cross, Church Street, Eccles M30 0DA